This post originally came from a reply that I made to a question that was asked on the r/tor subreddit.

So, you want to run the tor service on in Linux but not just with the Tor Browser. Let’s assume that you’re running a Debian-based Linux distro.

sudo apt update && sudo apt install tor torsocks
sudo systemctl enable --now tor

This will install the tor service and run it as a server as the “tor” user. Any program that you run that can use a SOCKS5 proxy can take advantage of this service by connecting to localhost:9050.

If your program does not use a SOCKS5 proxy, maybe it will work by running it from the command line with: torsocks myapp with “myapp” being the application that you want to run with Tor.

This could be a bad idea though for 2 reasons.

  1. Most application developers do not write their software to use Tor. If you need to connect to a remote server with that application, any server you connect to may block you because they don’t allow connections from Tor exits notes.
  2. Most applications aren’t written to hide your fingerprint because that wasn’t important to the developer when they wrote it. Only Tor Browser and (to a lesser extent) Brave’s Tor Mode, were written with specifically with fingerprinting in mind.

With that said, there are a lot of very cool things you can do with Tor and normal applications. If you know IRC, the OFTC network allows Tor users where other servers don’t. You can tunnel SSH and Telnet connections through Tor (if you don’t mind the extra lag). You can connect to other non-web services with Tor because their are typically not bothered by Tor users or bots coming from Tor.

There are also a ton of very interesting things that you can do by creating your own onion services.

However, you should really understand what is going on with how Tor works before you give away any personal info on any external service or on your own onion service. Running Tor is primarily about anonymity, not security or privacy. If you de-anonymize yourself by telling people who you are, then there’s no one to blame but you.